Retro safari

By Viva Goldner
Updated: 2007-09-07 10:35

Buffalo Club, a new upscale venue channeling the glamor of Shanghai in the 1930s, certainly made its impending presence known. Few could have missed the man-sized billboards around town, bearing curious messages presumably meant to build intrigue ahead of its recent opening on the lively Lotus Lane strip at Houhai Lake. Instead, the high-exposure advertising campaign achieved some degree of infamy as a prime example of Chinglish. Its slogans included such gems as, "Shangri-La is in your mind, but your buf

falo is not", and "Utopia is beyond the world, but your buffalo is not".

But this lavishly designed three-story bar and restaurant, with stunning views over the water, has already become a favorite with international visitors. Buffalo Club's al fresco seating right on the lakefront is a highlight, and the restaurant was doing a reasonable weekend evening trade, despite its menu offering mains for 180 yuan. The restaurant is decorated in lush, tropical style, with slate floors, plenty of greenery and water features, and soft lighting. Design influences are pan-Asian, the mood meant to be, "mysterious and romantic".

The nightclub part of the venue has a more intimate, warm atmosphere. Downstairs is a French-inspired bar with retro flavor, right down to the old-style large, silver microphone the singer is cradling. Buffalo hosts live jazz most nights, and on this evening, the solo singer is dressed in a pretty, silk qipao, doing her best to draw in customers from the passing crowds outside. But, like many of Beijing's flashier new clubs, Buffalo suffers from a distinct lack of patrons.

Emphasis is placed on an extensive range of imported wines, with Californian wine served by the glass. Top-shelf liquor is displayed in glass cases, and there is a dedicated cigar lounge. The upstairs dcor is elegant in a gentlemen's private club kind of way, with interesting artwork on the walls and no intrusive loud music. The staff is attractively dressed in traditional Chinese style. They are friendly and attentive.

According to its website, Buffalo Club is inspired by the Buffalo Stone - a "legendary supernatural stone" that has been buried for 71 million years, "absorbing a substantial amount of both the earth's and the universe's positive creative cosmic energy, which stimulates creativity, energy, wisdom and love". Definitely creative, if nothing else.

Buffalo Club
Location: 5 Lotus Lane, Shichahai), Xicheng District.
Tel: 010-6617-1666. 5


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